Parents at the elite Riverdale Country School in New York got a letter last week saying “We have looked into questions that were raised about the conduct of a very small number of faculty members and have initiated conversations with the faculty both broadly and specifically about the most effective and appropriate ways to deal with controversial subjects….As a result of these events, two faculty members will not be returning in September, and though the reasons are different, both are linked to this situation,” reported The New York Post.
One of the teachers was Shawn Redden, who was first suspended without pay after an incident in which, according to a parent, he bashed Israel after the country, in May, killed 60 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were terrorists. Riverdale also booted Joel Doerfler, who said on a pro-Palestinian outlet that “there exists at Riverdale, and in the culture at large, assertive, influential and highly emotional supporters of Israel and of pretty much everything it does and has done, who are hell-bent on stifling…academic investigation.”
He talked to teachers and administrators a couple years ago and said “History curricula are controversial. Because ‘history’ (by which I mean what historians write and teach) is an important element in national invention and integration, national narratives…are frequently battlefields where contemporary political issues are fought out. In these often vitriolic debates far more is usually at stake than simple questions about ‘what actually happened’ in the past.”
So we immediately see that Doerfler subscribes to the progressive notion that there is a difference between history and the past. These people believe, like author and NDP politician Thomas King said, that “history is the stories we tell about the past.” When history is no longer just the unchangeable fact, leftists have an excuse to mold their politics into curriculum and discredit history they don’t like as some kind of “false narrative.” No! Bad Doerfler! The guy also says that when parents complained about his course, the headmaster encouraged the teacher to allow speakers picked by parents into the class.
About this, Doerfler said, and notice the word choice here: “what teacher, after all, wants to take on the Israel Lobby and its local minions?” But here’s the problem, dude: you can’t admit that you have a biased approach to teaching and then smear others with different points of view as activists, now can you? Why can’t we just agree to return to the days when kids were taught how to think, not what to think?
Pro-Israel, Anti-Affirmative Action Official Gets Bashed
The Senate confirmed Kenneth L. Marcus as assistant secretary for civil rights in DeVos’ Education Department by a 50-46 vote, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation. Marcus served in the same position under former president George W. Bush and currently serves as president of the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law which fights anti-Semitism on college campuses. Marcus has presented the case for why boycotting Israel is illegal, says that such boycotts are “arguably anti-Semitic,” and may breach the academic freedom of students and professors.
Rahul Saksena, who’s a staff attorney for Palestine legal, said: “Marcus’ record clearly demonstrates that his primary mission is not to protect students’ civil rights; it is to shield Israel from criticism. It’s unconscionable that the U.S. Senate has confirmed him to oversee civil rights enforcement in Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education even as Israel continues to gun down Palestinians protesting for their rights in Gaza.”
Yeah, you know, just innocent Palestinian protesters. It’s not as though Hamas launches rocket strikes and suicide attacks against Israelis. It’s not as though Palestinians get taught in school to hate and perhaps even kill Jewish Israelis. It’s not as though at least 50 of the 62 people killed by Israel during the May US embassy ceremony belonged to Hamas or Islamic Jihad, as claimed by the groups themselves.
But Marcus has also gotten heat for opposing affirmative action, which is equality of outcome and should be opposed by anyone who thinks that things like hard work, communication, and creativity MIGHT matter a bit more in the workplace than your genitalia or how much melanin you have.
Leftists Cannibalize Themselves Over Israel-Hatred
Former Drexel University professor and current New York University scholar George Ciccariello-Maher, who tweeted “all I want for Christmas is white genocide” and blamed the Las Vegas massacre on the “white supremacist patriarchy” fought with Senator Bernie Sanders over Israel. The senator said:
“Over 50 killed in Gaza today and 2,000 wounded, on top of the 41 killed and more than 9,000 wounded over the past weeks. This is a staggering toll. Hamas violence does not justify Israel firing on unarmed protesters.”
That wasn’t good enough for the professor, who responded “What ‘Hamas violence,’ you fucking coward?”
Well I’ll tell you what Hamas violence, Georgie. The terrorist group mobilized Palestinians by the tens of thousands to attack Israel with everything from kite bombs and molotov cocktails to rocks and meat cleavers. Hamas purposefully inserts its members and weapons alongside even peaceful protesters, so when Israel attempts to neutralize those threats, civilian casualties are sometimes inevitable. Hamas is encouraged to cause the death of Palestinians that are attacking Israel’s border and those who aren’t because the media will spin it as Israel killing civilians.
But Ciccariello-Maher vs. Sanders wasn’t the only progressive in-fighting over Israel. Remember the scholar Steven Salaita? The University of Illinois withdrew its employment offer to Salaita after tweets in which the academic said “You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the fucking West Bank settlers would go missing” and “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza”
He sued the school after it turned him away and eventually settled for over half a million dollars. But Salaita harangued Rabia Chaudry, a vehement anti-Trumper who, amid anti-Israel remarks, said a few things he did not like. Salaita tweeted:
“[Rabia Chaudry] has nothing but mealymouthed bullshit to say about Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza (with which she is complicit). She saves her tough-talk for Palestinians who dare to criticize her violent careerism.”
ADL Whines About Anti-Semitism Watchdog
The ADL tweeted out a column by Pro-Israel students in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin arguing against watchdog group Canary Mission by saying that a “blacklist of BDS supporters is hurting our efforts to defend Israel.” I’m not feeling this implication right off the bat that blacklists necessarily hurt anyone. They only have as much power as their readers give them. Anyway, the students say Canary Mission “uses intimidation tactics, is antithetical to our democratic and Jewish values, is counterproductive to our efforts and is morally reprehensible.”
“Intimidation” and “morally reprehensible” are subjective fluff, but do your democratic and Jewish values really not enable you to create and maintain lists online? No. The only thing that should matter here is how “counterproductive” Canary Mission’s tracking of anti-Israel bias is to your activism. So let’s look into that.
The students say Canary “promot[es] a negative perception of Muslims” and that they “view much of the rhetoric employed to villainize these individuals as hateful and, in some cases, Islamophobic and racist.”
Ok, pause. Exactly what rhetoric does Canary employ? Here’s one of the site’s profiles, this one for Nadera Masad of McMaster University. The only incendiary quotes on this page are Masad’s own words: “Death to America and all white people,” death to Israel and all Zionists,” “white people are the face of terrorism.” If it’s their own words, how can you accuse Canary of painting the negative perception?
Now, one reasonable concern these students have is that blacklists are pushing anti-Israel activism underground. Pro-BDS students at the University of Michigan and George Washington University used the prospect of ending up blacklisted to create secret ballots for BDS proposals so supporters of divesting from Israel couldn’t be identified. OK, but that’s the funny thing about stigma: it makes people want to seek anonymity. The more successful pro-Israel students are on campus, the more the anti-Israel lobby will be driven underground.
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